Move over, Melissa Joan Hart. There’s a new teenage witch on the block, and this one isn’t playing around. Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is nothing like its ’90s TGIF sitcom predecessor, outside of some familiar names as well as the idea of a teen girl wrestling with high school drama along with learning to harness her witching powers.
Instead of comedy, Chilling Adventures rests squarely in the horror genre. It’s filled with monsters, talk of the Dark Lord, curses, and even an appearance or two by Satan himself–whose design clearly took inspiration from Baphomet, the goat-headed demon that was first linked to the Knights Templar in the 1300s. Still, at the core is this dark and spooky tale is the story of a girl stuck between two worlds.
Sabrina Spellman, played wonderfully by Mad Men alum Kiernan Shipka, is on the cusp of her 16th birthday, a date on which she is being forced to choose whether to give up her mortal world–filled with classes, friends, and a lovable goof of a boyfriend–or forsake her family’s witch ancestry, losing her burgeoning powers.
Her family expects her to simply hand her life over to the Academy of Unseen Arts and continue her witching studies, but that’s not necessarily the track Sabrina wants to take. After all, as horrifying as the scarier elements of this show can be, they’re all there to serve the story of empowering this young woman on her journey to adulthood. Outside forces are attempting to force Sabrina to choose a life she may not want. Instead, she’s attempting to forge her own road, which puts her family, friends, and even her own life–those monsters that come after her are not playing around–at risk.
This is why Chilling Adventures is such a uniquely good show. It manages to tangle with modern day issues many face, while couching it all in a supernatural world. It’s exciting to watch Sabrina stand up to what is essentially a patriarchy, even though it is one led by a coven of powerful witches and warlocks able to summon demons to come after her.
Let’s talk about those demons for a second. Like the new Halloween film, Chilling Adventures embraces the horror of old. Instead of over-the-top CGI monsters and lots of digital effects, this show relies on practical effects as much as possible. That means when the Dark Lord finally shows himself, get ready for a massive goat demon, complete with hooves. There is some CGI and digital effects at play, but so much of what unfolds on the show feels like it was all created practically.
Channeling 1970s horror fits perfectly within the timeless world of this show. As with other series like Bates Motel and Gotham–not to mention Riverdale, which is by the same producers–it’s hard to pin down the exact year Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes place. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cell phone or mention of social media–or even a computer–in the series, while Sabrina and her friends go see old horror movies at the theater and dance to “Monster Mash” to celebrate Halloween.
The series hails from executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also serves as showrunner on The CW’s Riverdale and writer of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic the show is based on, as well as Afterlife with Archie. Given how spooky that comic and his Afterlife with Archie books are, it’s no wonder he’s leaning so heavily into the dark and twisted for Sabrina. “I’ve always loved horror so I love to be able to explore that level with Sabrina,” Aguirre-Sacasa told GameSpot.
Regardless of how good a concept or genre is, though, a show is only as good as its cast. Aguirre-Sacasa lucked out with Riverdale, finding an army of young and veteran actors that believably populate that small and bizarre town.
With Chilling Adventures, his casting team has done it again, though in a very different way. While Shipka confidently anchors the series, taking viewers on a rollercoaster trip through the two worlds she’s trying to navigate, it’s those surrounding her that make the show so special. Her aunts Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis) each have their own ideas of what Sabrina should do with her life. Having two powerhouse actresses in those roles alongside Shipka goes a long way in establishing the amount of female power surging through this show. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s pansexual cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) struggles with being trapped in the Spellman Mortuary under magical house arrest, while doing what he can to help guide his cousin to find what she wants from life.
Outside of Sabrina’s home, things get more interesting. Her mortal friends, including perhaps the most admirably oblivious boyfriend of all time in Harvey (Ross Lynch), show why the young witch is reluctant to leave the world she knows behind. However, Academy of Unseen Arts students like the trio known as the Weird Sisters (Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, and Abigail Cowen) manage to convey how scary but enchanting this new world could be. Those three characters, especially, are so much fun to watch float in and out of Sabrina’s life and always leave audiences wondering if they actually hate her or not.
Rounding out the cast are actors like Michelle Gomez as the delightfully devious Madam Satan and Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood, the high priest of the Church of Night, who does not hold Sabrina in very high regard.
It’s hard to find something to dislike about Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. There’s a moment or two that might seem like the show is trying too hard to channel the teen angst and melodrama of Riverdale, but given they come from the same creative force, that’s not surprising. And if you’re going into it expecting incredibly cinematic visuals, you might be disappointed, as the inspiration for the show’s looks is clearly older horror films.
The only real complaint might be with the pacing–there’s a filler episode early in the first season that seemingly grinds the overarching plot to a halt. It’s eventually connected to the larger storyline, but the timing feels off. The first several episodes of the show quickly shoot forward as Sabrina comes to grips with balancing her mortal life and the witching world, and it’s strange to wedge in a standalone story so early in Season 1.
However, it’s hard to think of a better Halloween binge than Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. With a new Halloween in theaters, and this and Haunting of Hill House streaming on Netflix, there are more than enough scares to power you through the end of October.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘s first season releases Friday, October 26, on Netflix.
|The Good||The Bad|
|The ’70s horror aesthetic is done really well||Too quickly the show plugs in a filler episode|
|Kiernan Shipka is a fantastic lead||The older visual style of the show might be jarring for modern horror fans|
|It’s hard to deny how incredibly talented the rest of this cast is|
|The show easily jumps back and forth between heart-warming and downright terrifying|
|Both side of Sabrina’s world–mortal and witching–feel fully-realized|
The upcoming Arrow-verse crossover keeps getting more interesting. First, it was announced that Batwoman (Ruby Rose) would be introduced in the three-show event, with the first look at her costume offering a potentially exciting addition to The CW’s superhero universe. Additionally, it was announced that not only would Tyler Hoechlin reprise his role as Clark Kent/Superman, but that Grimm alum Elizabeth Tulloch would appear as Lois Lane.
The good crossover news doesn’t end there, though. Now the event is actually filming, which means set photos are starting to make their way online care of the shows’ casts. Thanks to the Green Arrow himself, Stephen Amell, fans have gotten an interesting look at Superman. Amell posted a photo of himself, alongside Hoechlin and Grant Gustin (The Flash). Hoechlin, though, isn’t wearing the traditional red and blue Superman costume. Instead, he’s wearing a black suit.
— Stephen Amell (@StephenAmell) October 15, 2018
The black Superman suit has appeared in comics a lot over the years, most recently in Superman: Lois and Clark. What remains to be seen is how it will play into the crossover, which is titled “Elseworlds.” In the comics, “Elseworlds” stories take DC superheroes and put them in stories out of continuity.
That said, it would be very surprising if Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl all dedicated episodes to an event that doesn’t have a lasting impact on any of the shows. Perhaps the story will drop the trio of superheroes into yet another Earth in the multiverse, in which they join with alternate versions of themselves and other heroes.
Whatever the case, the idea of Superman in a black suit is an exciting one. With that, Batwoman, a trip to Gotham City, and everything else in store in the upcoming crossover event, this might be the most memorable one yet. “Elseworlds” kicks off on December 9 on The CW.
The seventh season of the Netflix hit TV show Orange is the New Black will be its last. The ensemble cast confirmed in a video today that the prison drama is ending in 2019.
Orange is the New Black, along with House of Cards, was one of Netflix’s first original shows. Created by Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, the show is based on the memoir by Piper Kerman, who like main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), was locked up in a women’s prison.
Warning: This may make you cry. The Final Season, 2019. #OITNB pic.twitter.com/bUp2yY0aoK
— Orange Is the New… (@OITNB) October 17, 2018
“After seven seasons, it’s time to be released from prison,” Kohan said in a statement (via Refinery29). “I will miss all the badass ladies of Litchfield and the incredible crew we’ve worked with,” Kohan said in a statement of the end of the series. “My heart is orange but… fade to black.”
Orange is the New Black premiered in 2013, with new seasons airing on a yearly basis. The final season will debut sometime in 2019.
In addition to Schilling, the show stars Laura Prepon, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Natasha Lyonne, and Kate Mulgrew.
The fall release season means the biggest games, and it doesn’t get much bigger than Activision’s annual Call of Duty franchise. This year revisits one of its most popular series with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. But for the first time in the long-running franchise, this one eschews a single-player campaign altogether in favor of more multiplayer modes and standalone stories with each of its operators.
Reviews are rolling in, and the conclusion from critics appears to be that the lack of a traditional campaign hasn’t hurt the total package. Our own Black Ops 4 review found that the three main modes were substantial enough to make up the difference, and the depth and breadth of the multiplayer offerings kept reviewer Kallie Plagge from missing the usual bombastic story mode. Read on for a variety of critical responses, and take a look at GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic for more reviews from around the industry.
- Game: Madden NFL 19
- Developer / Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Release date: August 10
- Price: US $60 / £60 / AU $69
GameSpot — 8/10
“Black Ops 4 isn’t short on content, and its three main modes are substantial. Multiplayer introduces more tactical mechanics without forcing you into them, and it largely strikes a good balance. Zombies has multiple deep, secret-filled maps to explore, though its returning characters don’t hold up and prove distracting. Finally, Blackout pushes Call of Duty in an entirely new direction, making use of aspects from both multiplayer and Zombies for a take on the battle royale genre that stands on its own. Sure, there isn’t a traditional single-player campaign, but with the depth and breadth of what is there, Black Ops 4 doesn’t need it.” — Kallie Plagge [Full review]
Game Informer — 9.5/10
“Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 makes a sacrifice that’s sure to be off-putting to some with the lack of a campaign, but the surrender of tradition comes with sweeping and significant benefits. Blackout is the best battle-royale experience available today, zombies offers crazy customizable co-op, and multiplayer keeps things grounded for those looking for the classic core.” — Daniel Tack [Full review]
VentureBeat — 90/100
“I hope that Treyarch and Activision see this as a new jumping off point, with frequent updates to add new experiences and maps to Blackout and the other modes. But we’ll see just how much the Call of Duty community appreciates what Treyarch has done.” — Dean Takahashi [Full review]
EGM — 8.5/10
“This always seemed like the inevitable conclusion we faced as Call of Duty fans. With the exception of the side-thought that is the Specialist HQ, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a wholly social experience, and it stands all the stronger because of it. Committing to three full-fledged multiplayer modes was a necessary risk for making a Call of Duty game that will likely have longer legs than any installment before it. Quality single-player campaigns are always welcome in our Call of Duty games, but if this is Treyarch’s new direction for the series, that works too.” — Nick Plessas [Full review]
Destructoid — 8/10
“Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 can’t just operate with the same business-as-usual mentality from Activision, now that it’s taken this step. Blackout has the potential to be its own game in the same way Epic tore its Battle Royale mode from the main package as a separate entity. Leave it to Treyarch to create a conundrum after introducing a non-traditional project into the fray.” — Chris Carter [Full review]
Variety — No Score
“While it lacks the reinvention of some of its predecessors, Call of Duty: Black Ops IV is dutifully crafted, meticulously polished, and the best Call of Duty multiplayer outing in years.” — Luke Winkie [Full review]
Chinese networking and mobile giant Huawei introduced a new smartphone this week that it claims is a competitor in the video game space to the Nintendo Switch. The Mate 20 X is a 7.2-inch smartphone that CEO Richard Yu boasted as “the best portable mobile gaming machine.”
Variety reports that the event was ostensibly to debut two new phones, but Huawei finished its presentation with the surprise announcement of the Mate 20 X as well. After comparing its performance to phones like the Galaxy Note9, Yu showed a gamepad add-on and began comparing the Mate to the Switch, complete with side-by-side comparisons.
Yu said the Mate 20 X has a larger screen than the Switch at 7.2 inches, higher resolution with a 1080p OLED screen, and a larger battery. It features a vapor chamber and graphene film designed to keep the chips working at lower temperatures. As a phone, it comes equipped with a 40 MP camera. And it comes in two colors, Phantom Silver and Midnight Blue. You can check out the full specifications here.
“We bring you an extra display, extra power and also extra performance,” Yu said.
The Mate 20 X is priced at €899 or around $1,040. That makes it significantly more than a Nintendo Switch, and aligned more with the price of higher-end iPhone models.
The Switch has provided a financial boom for Nintendo, joining its mobile and console markets. It’s clear enough why a mobile manufacturer would want to position its latest device as a direct competitor. Some of Nintendo’s success, though, comes down to Nintendo’s own first-party games and third-parties getting on-board with specialized software. Huawei is a huge name in China, so it may use that leverage to attract its own development community.